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The name gives you a clue as to what these primates look like. All Guianan bearded sakis, male and female, have lovely dark beards. The beards on the males are a bit bigger than on the females. In addition, you can recognize Guianan bearded sakis by the ‘buns’ on their head. Between these ‘buns’ they have a comb of powerful chewing muscles. This comes in very handy for the Guianan bearded sakis, because they love eating hard nuts and seeds. In addition, Guianan bearded sakis have thick brown fur. This is great protection against the tropical showers where these primates live in the wild. And finally, they have dark, brush-like tails.
Guianan bearded sakis live in the wild in Surinam, Guiana and northern Brazil. They live in the higher parts of the rainforests and savanna woodlands.
Guianan bearded sakis live in large social groups. These groups consist of multiple adult males and females. There are usually 25-55 primates in a group of Guianan bearded sakis.
Little is known about how Guianan bearded sakis behave. That is because they have not been studied much. Guianan bearded sakis live in areas that are difficult to access. They also live in large groups and are not always easy to spot. What we do know is that Guianan bearded sakis play with and groom each other less than other primate species. So they do not display much positive social behaviour. There is also no clear ‘leader’ in their groups. Guianan bearded sakis spend most of their time foraging for food. In the wild, a large group will split up into smaller groups that go in search of tasty morsels. They reunite at the end of the day. This is also known as fission-fusion and is also seen in groups of spider monkeys.
There is also not much information available on how Guianan bearded sakis reproduce. The males probably mate with multiple females. So the males are not involved much in raising the young. For the first two months of its life, a newborn Guianan bearded saki spends most of its time on its mother’s belly. After that, the young primate moves onto her back. It only begins to explore the world around it after about five months. Although adult Guianan bearded sakis do not have a great deal of contact with each other, the females are very interested in the babies. The males also enjoy playing with the young primates.
Situation in the wild
The status of Guianan bearded sakis in the wild has never been officially investigated by the IUCN, the world’s largest nature conservation organisation. The currents status of Guianan bearded sakis is ‘not endangered’.
There are currently two Guianan bearded sakis living at Apenheul. They have not been on show at Apenheul for very long: the first Guianan bearded sakis arrived at the Apeldoorn zoo in 2017. That was a special occasion, because only a handful of European zoos host Guianan bearded sakis. We started with two males. Since then, one of the males has moved to a different zoo and has been replaced by a female. Of course, we hope they will produce some little Guianan bearded sakis in the future!
Apenheul is part of the EEP European breeding programme for Guianan bearded sakis. By collaborating with other zoos, we maintain this species in captivity.
- Guianan bearded sakis are a rare sight in zoos: they only live in small number of European zoos.
- Guianan bearded sakis love hard nuts and seeds. They can open and chew them themselves, using their special incisors and canines. In other words, their teeth are like nutcrackers!
- All Guianan bearded sakis have beards, both males and females. The beard on the males often bigger than the ones on the females.